Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review


Oliver Folan, Arts and Entertainment Editor '22

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the newest installment in the MCU. The story centers around Shang-Chi, otherwise known as Shaun, and his best friend Katy. Both of them are valet drivers who seem to lack any drive in their lives, but when the two of them get attacked by a group of thugs on a bus and Shang-Chi swiftly beats them up in a series of impressive martial arts action moves, Katy realizes that Shaun is not the person she thought he was. After they realize that these thugs might be connected to Shang-Chi’s father Xu Wenwu, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past and prevent Xu Wenwu from committing acts of terror against the mythical realm of Ta Lo.

It’s been a good two years since I’ve enjoyed a Marvel property. Black Widow was one of the most boring superhero movies to come out in recent memory, so going into this new film I was not expecting anything outstanding. However, I’m happy to announce that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was actually really enjoyable.

The most talked about aspect of the film thus far has been the action scenes, and for good reason. They aren’t the most well shot or edited action scenes I’ve seen, but the choreography was genuinely great, and in a lot of ways the film felt like a tribute to martial arts classics such as Hero. I heavily admire the director Destin Daniel Cretton for actually putting effort into his action scenes, because the majority of action in mainstream blockbusters these days are just incredibly lazy. There was one flashback scene in particular in which Xu Wenwu takes revenge on this group of people for killing his wife (which is not a spoiler by the way), and the scene was shot in one relatively long take, utilizing the mirrors in the room as a way of revealing and concealing the violence being committed. It was the type of shot that was surprisingly stylistic and effective. I also didn’t mind the CGI heavy action scenes towards the end, which was surprising.

Xu Wenwu, played excellently by Tony Leung, is also one of the best Marvel villains in quite some time. Most American audiences won’t understand how much of a legend Tony Leung is in Hong Kong. He’s an incredible actor and to see him playing the big villain in a Marvel movie is really awesome. He did a wonderful job of making the character feel grounded and sympathetic. You fully understand why his character acts the way he acts in the film, which is the most important part of any villain.

It did take me a while to get into the film and I think that’s because the first act, as well as the second act to a certain extent, relies heavily on comedy and the bond between Shang-Chi and Katy, played by Simu Liu and Awkwafina respectively. It wasn’t until they got to Ta Lo that I was consistently enjoying everything that was happening. I loved watching the action scenes, but every scene in between those that did not directly revolve around Xu Wenwu felt very awkward. Even though I found Simu Liu to be quite charming throughout the film, Awkwafina was very annoying and painfully unfunny. There was also some really unnecessary comedy in the bus fight that made the scene feel significantly less enjoyable, but maybe I’m just looking too far into it. That being said, I didn’t really find anything in the film to be particularly funny, except for some scenes towards the very end.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings simultaneously feels very comfortable with being a generic Marvel movie while also being a martial arts epic. It’s certainly not great, but I can understand why someone might go crazy over this, which is something I haven’t really felt about an MCU movie in quite some time. It had an engaging villain with some really strong action scenes, and it was overall very enjoyable. I could even see myself rewatching this one again in the future.